Marudu flats demolition: Residents in area unhappy with arrangements

Though two buses were arranged to evacuate residents from the area around H2O Holy Faith, it ran mostly empty with most residents choosing to stay with family.

Though two buses were arranged to evacuate residents from the area around H2O Holy Faith, it ran mostly empty with most residents choosing to stay with family.   | Photo Credit: M.P. Praveen


They accuse the authorities of not doing enough to ensure protection of their houses from dust

Residents in the neighbourhood of Alfa Serene, one of the two apartments being pulled down on Saturday for violating CRZ norms, were an agitated lot, as they accused the authorities of not doing enough to safely evacuate them to temporary shelters ahead of the planned implosion.

Unlike the impression created by the Sub-Collector and other authorities through the media that all arrangements had been made for the evacuation, nothing was done on the ground and that they were completely in the dark about the evacuation protocol, they alleged.

“Except for a notice served by the municipality a few days ago, we were told literally nothing about the evacuation. We are moving out on our own volition out of fear for our lives. In fact, there was no clarity about our evacuation and return before and after the demolition,” Riyas Kadavil, one of the local residents.

Last minute arrangements

Motioning towards people doing a last-minute scramble to cover their dwellings from the dust and debris caused by the implosion, Jasbeer, another local resident, said that they literally had to fight with the authorities last night to even get the sheets for covering their houses.

But not everyone got the sheets, as the elderly couple V.N. Subramanyan, a retired High Court employee, and his wife Nirmala vouched. “None of us were told anything about the protocol to be followed nor were we given any material for covering our houses,” said the 77-year-old while taking a break from covering the house with his wife’s old saris.

Siraj, another resident, said that the geotextile and sandbags promised to cover and fortify the houses never came. “We are not going to the evacuation centres, which are quite some distance away from our homes. We want to stick around to ensure that our homes are intact,” he said.

“There are children in families and no arrangements were made for food or snacks while evacuating them,” said Shahul Hameed.

Door-to-door delivery of notices

Standing outside her small house, which had developed multiple cracks since the pre-blast demolition, 58-year-old K.D. Sarasakshi was anxious about the safety of her dwelling. “While the apartment owners were given lakhs in compensation, the authorities are maintaining complete silence about repairing our houses. This is a small house but it is all I have and there is no way I will be able to rebuild it,” she said.

Disha Pratapan, municipal councillor of ward 33, said except for door-to-door delivery of the notices about the precautions to be taken on demolition, not even a meeting was convened by the Sub-Collector to discuss the evacuation. “It is only natural that people are aggrieved and the majority of them have chosen to stick around in the neighbourhood rather than the temporary shelters, which are quite far away from their neighbourhood,” she said.

Though two buses were arranged to evacuate residents from the area around H2O Holy Faith, the buses ran mostly empty to the temporary shelter set-up at Sacred Heart College, with most residents choosing to stay with family.

Shaji Antony and his family, who live near the apartment, decided to stay away from the camp, choosing to stay with relatives instead. “My elderly father is unwell and we are unsure of the medical facilities available at the shelter,” he said.

Besides, residents also chose to stay with family since they were unsure of when they would be able to return to their homes. “We were not told exactly when we can return. Some of us plan on coming back to check if the houses are all right a few hours later, though we may not come back to stay the night,” he said.

Sarasu Subramanian, who left with her family to the shelter at Thevara, said that they stayed in one of the bylanes a little away from the flat, but she was worried about the dust exacerbating her existing breathing troubles.

Joseph Nedumparambil, whose house is a few metres away from the flat, plans on sticking around to watch the implosion, while his family heads to church to light candles for the safety of their house, he said.

There are not many takers for the temporary shelters opened by the authorities at Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) at Nettoor, over a kilometre away on the national highway, and at Sacred Heart College, Thevara, for evacuees from the surrounding areas of Alfa Serene and H2O Holy Faith.

The police started evacuating the families from the neighbourhood of Alfa Serene shortly after 8 a.m. While the residents moved out of their houses, most of them declined to move to the shelters.

“They were reluctant to move out for a short span of time lasting about three hours. So, the majority of the residents near Alfa Serene chose to move to their ancestral homes in the neighbourhood and just about 20 people from near Holy Faith were shifted to Sacred Heart College,” said P. H. Nadeera, Maradu municipal chairperson.

Besides, people who were already agitated about the perceived apathy in arranging proper evacuation were not willing to move far away from their houses, many of which had already developed cracks in pre-demolition works.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 2:03:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/marudu-flats-demolition-residents-in-area-unhappy-with-arrangements/article30541507.ece

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